Yesterday, the Internet was aflutter with a tantalizing report claiming that Apple was actively exploring becoming an MVNO. In such a scenario, Apple would lease spectrum from established carriers and then sell it directly to consumers. In short, the report seemed to indicate that Apple was on a path towards becoming a wireless carrier, an admittedly wild idea that wasn’t completely out of this world given Google’s own MVNO initiative.
But as far as rumors go, this one was particularly short-lived. While Apple tends to ignore rumors completely, it took the unusual step of issuing a blanket rejection of its supposed MVNO plans. In a statement issued to CNBC, Apple said that it has no plans of offering consumers MVNO cellular service.
BREAKING: Apple says it has not discussed & is not planning MVNO cellular service following reports saying it was planning on doing that.
— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) August 4, 2015
Well, so much for that. While the idea of Apple becoming an MVNO is certainly intriguing, one can only imagine the panic that set in amongst carriers like AT&T and Verizon when they happened upon the story yesterday. Indeed, the only reason we’re able to purchase iPhones at current price levels is because of carrier subsidies. If consumers started paying Apple for their data, text, and call services, well, getting an iPhone for $199 might not be possible.
And, of course, for Apple to even become an MVNO in the first place, it would effectively have to lease spectrum from carriers that it would then be competing with.
So while Apple did launch the iPad Air 2 with an Apple SIM last year, recall that Tim Cook stated during an All Things D interview a few years ago that Apple doesn’t need to “own the pipe.” Cook further added that Apple wants to focus on making great devices and leave cellular issues to the “people who own it” and who “know more about it than we do.”